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How to invest your money as rates rise

Susan Dziubinski  |  19 Jul 2022Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Centrals banks are drawing curtains on a decade plus of easy money. The policy rate in New Zealand and Canada hit 2.5% last week. Rates in the US and Australia are close behind. The all-powerful US Federal Reserve has said it expects to boost rates to 3.75% by the first quarter of 2023. The fastest tightening cycle in a generation is upon investors.

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How far and fast central banks go will depend largely on how quickly inflation ebbs. It has been years (in some cases generations) since investors faced a prolonged period of rising interest rates.

Against this backdrop, many investors are wondering how they should be investing their money today and if they should be making changes to their portfolios. Morningstar is here to help.

How to invest your money when rates are rising

At Morningstar, we believe that your investment goals —rather than what’s going on in the market—should determine how you invest your money. Put another way, we don’t think rising interest rates should necessarily change the way you think about investing your core portfolio—assuming that the asset mix in that core portfolio is aligned well with your time horizon. Most investors probably don’t need to make changes to their portfolios in response to rising interest rates.

That being said, some investors may be interested in tilting their portfolios toward stock sectors and styles that may be poised to benefit from rising interest rates. Others may be looking to invest a small bit of money in securities that may help offset the impact of rising interest rates elsewhere in their portfolios. If that sounds like you, here are a few ideas for how to invest when interest rates are rising.

  1. Favour stock sectors that typically benefit from rising interest rates and lighten up on those that don’t: The earnings of many financial-services stocks—bank stocks, in particular—should benefit from rising interest rates. (Although it’s not a sure thing. As Australia’s bank selloff shows, if rates rise too quickly, bad debts could outweigh the margin expansion from higher rates) Meanwhile, utilities stocks become less attractive when rates rise, as their dividends become less appealing as the yields on bonds become more competitive. (For more, watch “What rising interest rates may mean for utilities stocks.”)
  2. Dabble in value stocks: Value stocks—which are typically undervalued relative to their worth, pay dividends, offer modest growth, and often cluster in what many would consider to be “stodgy” industries—should theoretically outperform growth stocks during periods of rising interest rates, because a growth stock is worth less than a value stock when interest rates rise. Dig deeper into this concept in ”Will rising rates provide an advantage for value stocks?
  3. Consider shorter-term investing: As mentioned elsewhere in this article, longer-term bonds are more sensitive to interest-rate movements. Some investors who own bonds might therefore consider moving into some shorter-term bonds or bond funds, especially if they expect to need to tap into those dollars in the next three to five years. Silver-rated PIMCO Australian Short-Term Bond is one option for Aussie investors.
  4. Hold enough cash if you’re nearing or in retirement: Morningstar’s director of personal finance and retirement planning Christine Benz suggests that investors in these life stages maintain five to 10 years’ worth of portfolio withdrawals in safe or short-term investments. Here’s Christine on “What rising interest rates mean for a retirement portfolio.

is director of content for Morningstar.com.

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